Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Math vs. Self

Day two of classes has wrapped up, so I've officially been to all of my classes once. I specifically planned my Tuesdays and Thursdays to be only my Business Math class. Me and Math have a long history of not getting along well. We argue constantly. We have a communication problem. Trouble is, I just don't understand Math. It's so hard to have a relationship with anything you just can't understand.

So I cleared my schedule for Math. This way I don't have any other focus on Tuesdays and Thursdays. So I can get my homework done faster, or see a tutor, or join a study group, or go home and cry.

But, thank the Lord for small favors, there IS something to look forward to when it comes to this class.

Shall I explain? Very well.

I have Business Math at 11:10, which is nice. It means I don't have to get up at 7 EVERY day, although for the sake of keeping a routine I might try to. Anyway, this is also a big class. Which is good in some ways, bad in others. Good in that I know out of all of us, surely I'm not the only person who isn't good at math. Bad in that it's more intimidating to ask questions or speak up, and it could potentially be harder to include myself in on study groups because really, for me at least, it's usually harder to meet people in larger classes. I mean, they just have so many other choices of people to talk to. So we'll see.

And okay, yeah, I started off intimidated by this class, just because of the subject. I don't know how to stress just how NOT good at math I am. I'm sure you get the idea.

Our professor comes in, an unassuming looking man, tall and thin and very normal looking. At least I don't have an intimidating subject AND an intimidating teacher, right?

But then comes the small favor.

He starts talking.

He's Irish.

So, I may struggle with the concepts, and I may get a headache from the lessons, but at least I'll enjoy listening to the lectures!

And trust me, I really will get a headache from the lectures. We dove straight into notes today. He started covering stuff that "you should already be familiar with." Yeah, I'm not familiar with it. I vaguely recall learning it in high school, but that was pre-2005. So it's been awhile. And I didn't do great at it then. He covered a whole heck of a lot today, and if that's just supposed to be review, it's a pretty sure thing that I'll be working my tail off to keep up with this guy.

Oh well. By December, for better or worse, it will be over. And then I can call myself officially done with math forever, at least as far as my college career is concerned. Oh, happy day!

Until then, I'll just have to be prepared to...suffer through it.

Cross your fingers for me. 
I'm going to need it.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Day One Down

The first day of school has come and gone. Well, mostly. I mean, I still have a good chunk of day left, but the on-campus in-class part is over. Thank goodness.  I’m a little overwhelmed already, and it’s only day one. Not necessarily a great sign, although admittedly it’s not a death sentence. I tend to get easily overwhelmed anyway, so maybe a healthy does of positive thinking will put things in a different light.

Here’s a breakdown of my day.

My alarm goes off at seven. I check the time with disbelief. Usually I wake up several times the night before my first day of classes, so I was just sure I had a few hours left to sleep. Not so. Nevertheless, I hit the snooze for another 15 minutes.

It isn’t easy to roll out of bed, especially if you’re me, and especially if you don’t want to be getting up several hours earlier than has become normal. Even Tucker didn’t get up with me, and that’s saying something because usually he’s rip roarin’ to go as soon as I throw back the comforter.

I take my time getting ready. The whole point of getting up early was so that I’d get moving with enough time to be mildly coherent when it came time to leave. Fortunately, all goes well and I leave on time, heading to campus at about 8:15.

Good morning, Aggieland!
If you know me, and even if you don’t—and if you didn’t, now you will—I’m notorious for going out of my way to be early to things I’m uncomfortable with. I hate not having my pick of seats. I always worry I won’t be able to find my building, my classroom, my brain, so I like to leave myself plenty of time to get everything in order. I meet up with my friend and former roommate, Megan, and we chat in the library annex until we’re more reasonably early.

My first class is at 9:10. Marriage Institution. First impressions? Interesting professor, probably not an easy class. Perks? I know one person in my class! We had a couple of classes together last semester, so now I have a study buddy and it’s only the first day. That’s encouraging. Our professor informs us that she curses and says it like it is, and if we don’t like it we’re free to transfer out. I usually don’t approve of professors using foul language, but let’s be honest; I kind of got used to foul language last semester. And the semester before. When I took (my now favorite ever professor) Larry Heinemann. So as long as she doesn’t curse TO me, things will be fine.

Marriage Institution will be reading intensive, which I’m not looking forward to. Mostly because…so are all of my other classes. With the exception of math, which I’m sure will just be intensive. We’re also going to have a 10 page research paper, due in November. I’m okay with research papers—I’m an English major—but that doesn’t mean I’m thrilled at the prospect of writing one.

Still, I’m not feeling totally negative about this class. I think the lectures and subject will keep me interested, and having someone to study with and compare notes with is encouraging. I’m thinking I can make an A, but I’m also thinking it’s not going to be A piece of cake. Get it? Hah. Yeah.

My next class is right after Marriage Institution, at 10:20. Campaigns and Elections. In a word? Yikes.

The perks? November is congressional elections so there’s a current-event focus, which helps. And I like politics, so…we’ll see.

But I’m pretty sure I am actually the only non-Political Science major in the entire class. By pretty sure, I mean we went around the room and said our name and major and everyone else I heard said they were a PolySci major. The “pretty sure” is a disclaimer because I could hardly hear the people at the front of the class.

The professor seems to know his stuff, but it’s kind of hard to hear in the back. And I’m worried he may have a tendency to be monotone. Still, I guess I’ll hold back on judging the class until we get a little farther in.

Our professor also pointed out that this is a reading intensive class (Are you keeping count? I sure am. That’s two for two.) And, again, we’ll have a research paper. This one’s only 7 pages, (I’m keeping count of those, too.) and not due until December. But we do have a first draft due in October. I’m a little nervous about this one.

Weird desk setup, if you ask me.

Next class, again right after, is at 11:10. The Sociology of Gender. This class is packed, literally. A bunch of us guys are in there, which should make the class discussions she wants to have…interesting. First impressions? I like this chick. I feel rude saying chick, but girl isn’t appropriate, and she’s not too much older than me so lady doesn’t seem quite right either. But upon calling roll, one girl said she went by her middle name, to which our professor replied, “That’s okay, I go by my middle name, too. You may have noticed I’m listed as Demetrea, but I go by Nicole. People ask me, ‘Ha, how did you get Nicole out of Demetrea?’ I didn’t, dumbass.” It made me chuckle.

She told us she’d be giving us fill-in-the-blank notes, which I love. My Criminology professor used those, and they’re great because I’m neurotic about copying down every bit of text on a PowerPoint. This way, I don’t have to. I can just fill it in. Plus, when it comes to studying, there’s no question as to what’s important. Very handy.

Perks? No research paper! We have a thought journal, which consists of five entries throughout the semester. And two tests. Not much room for error, but no research paper!

Poor Yorick's, when it still
looked like a little coffee shop.
Between Soci of Gender and my next class, Shakespeare, I have a sizeable break. Enough time to grab lunch, or go let out the dog. Today I stayed on campus, in the interest of not losing my parking spot. I grabbed a ham and cheese croissant at Poor Yorick’s, a cute little coffee and sandwich (and apparently sushi) shop by the library. Well, it used to be separate from the library. But they’ve done some remodeling while the rest of us had summer break (or took classes, you know, whatever) so now it’s more open. Honestly, I don’t like it as much now. At all. It feels like a dining services station, which it is, but before it actually felt like a little coffee shop. The charm is gone. Completely gone. R.I.P. gone. But fortunately, the sandwiches are still good.

After eating, I started typing up this blog. Because let’s face it, I still have a good hour until my next class. My internet isn’t working in the library, which is infuriating. Because I have full signal, and the right passwords, and it shows me as connected. But it won’t load anything.

Woe is me.
In the library, just about to start typing up
this blog post.

I can’t wait to finish my last class of the day. Shakespeare is at 1:50, and I have it with Megan, the friend I met up with before classes this morning. It’s where I’m going after I’m done sitting in the library…

Which for you guys, might as well be right now.

Shakespeare. 1:50. The class is packed. Not at first, of course, but by the time class actually starts, it’s pretty much full. I’d guess there’s about two hundred of us in there. But despite the huge number of students, I still managed to make a friend! Megan, aforementioned in this very post, is taking Shakespeare with me, and we met another girl so now we have a three-person study group. Or, we will whenever we need to be studying. Excellent!

Impressions? Love the teacher. I think she’ll be great. Although…another reading intensive class. (Still counting? Me too. That’s three.) But I’m generally more confident about English classes in the first place, since that’s my area of study. So, so far I have high hopes for that class.

By the time I finished with school, I wanted to drop dead. It’s hellaciously hot here in Aggieland, and I sure ain’t used to wakin’ up at 7am! But all in all, it wasn’t a bad first day. In fact, it was much better than I’d been expecting. I still have my reservations about math tomorrow, but…it feels good to have Day One under my belt.

Right now, the first thing on my list to do is take a nap. I’m bushed! The best part of my day, aside from the napping, will be watching last nights episode of True Blood. Beacause really that’s all I’ve wanted to do ALL DAY. Eric Northman, you distract me. Don’t ever change.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Beginning of the End

It's about that time again. Fall semester starts on Monday, so I'll be back in school five days a week. I can't decide if I'm dreading it or excited about it. After taking classes over the summer, I kind of feel cheated out of a real break. With only a week or two between the end of Spring semester and the beginning of Summer I, and the non-break between Summer I and II, and again only two weeks after II and before Fall, I'm kind of in a state of mourning. You know, for what could have been. The vacation I could have taken, that kind of thing.

Fall means football here in Aggieland.

But really, without those summer classes, I wouldn't be graduating on time. So despite grieving over a summer lost, I'm also celebrating, most importantly, the end of my undergraduate foreign language requirement. Which has been the bane of my existence for quite some time. I took Spanish 1 and 2 a few summers ago, which arguably didn't go so well, so I was pretty nervous about 3 and 4. Seeing as how I didn't learn much the first go around. But by several miracles, I finished. I'm still thinking about throwing myself a party for that. And taking care of one phys. ed. credit will make things that much easier when I have to stuff one in to my last semester.

So all in all, my summer was a success. Yet still I can't help but wish for a little more time to just do nothing and love the heck out of it.

A view I will be seeing again, and soon.
But now I'm sitting at Saturday, staring down Sunday, and wishing Monday was more than
a day and a half away.

I always get first-day-of-class anxiety. Fortunately my four classes on Monday are in relatively close proximity to one another, making that anxiety lessen ever so slightly. My forecast says it should be raining. How appropriate.

But it's not just end-of-summer blues that make going back to classes bittersweet. It's also that this marks the beginning of the end. My senior year, the last hurrah. I'm almost done with my undergraduate work, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. Besides excited, besides, "FINALLY!" and besides, "Thank the Lord!" I'm also anxious, nervous, and admittedly sad. I don't really know what the future holds for me. Heck, I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. And frankly, after being in school for so long I'm not sure what I'll do with myself when I don't have classes to go to, homework to put off, tuition to pay, textbooks to...think about reading.

Speaking of textbooks, I have 17 for this semester, for a whopping $600 bucks. 
THAT I will not miss.

So I guess the crux of it is, I'm scared. I'm approaching the end of several years of hard work, and there's a light at the end of the tunnel but it's so bright that I can't see what else is out there. Maybe if I could, I wouldn't be so scared.

But then again, if I knew what was coming, would it be as exciting?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Clock of Life

I stumbled across this poem the other day and can't believe I haven't read it before. I think it's awesome. Profound, beautifully written, overall lovely. So in that spirit, I'm sharing it with you. Because I think it's worth reading. It's not mine, of course. It was written by Robert H. Smith, I think. Some places on the internet say "author unknown," but I also found his name. So correct me if I'm wrong, please!


The Clock Of Life
By Robert H. Smith

The clock of life is wound but once,
And no man has the power
To tell just when the hands will stop
At late or early hour.

To lose one's wealth is sad indeed,
To lose one's health is more,
To lose one's soul is such a loss
That no man can restore.

The present only is our own,
So live, love toil with a will—
Place no faith in tomorrow,
For the clock may then be still.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pathological Picture Taker

I love writing. Writing is such a creative release. I find it relaxing in a way that few other things can be. But another thing I love to do is take pictures. Of anything, from my favorite Frappuccino, to my pets, to trees, clouds, anything. I think credit, in part, definitely goes to my parents. My Mom is the family photo taker in our household. Vacation, birthdays, I always expected to see my Mom behind the camera. Family reunions, Christmas, those are my Dad. But then again, he's the professional picture taker. He usually works with video rather than still pictures, but he knows what he's doing. I've learned a lot from my Dad when it comes to photo composition, subject, technique.

There's just something about taking a good picture that's very rewarding. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and as someone who works with words, I can really appreciate that analogy. I'm thinking about starting a new project, putting words to photos. I think it might be an interesting personal challenge to see what I can pair up with the photos I take.

But for now, I just have a series of photos I took today. More clouds. Hopefully they bring some rain. Again, all of these were taken with my iPhone 4, and all the effects were done with CameraBag and Best Camera, which can be purchased in the App Store.

And now for the photos + effects.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Inspiration, where ARE you?

I'm a lazy bum. And most of the time I like it. But lately I've been jonesin' to do something productive, creative, and have found myself completely lacking in the inspiration department.

I have a few things I'm working on, but I'm blocked. I know some tricks that work for me when it comes to fending off writer's block, but the problem is... I'm a lazy bum. I haven't felt like I've got what it takes to just sit down and work.

I've been blaming summer classes. Spanish 4 and me are hoping to break up soon, and Self Defense and I just parted ways. So I'm running out of excuses. I'm hoping in the next few weeks I'll be able to relax and add some words to my work in progress, or W.I.P. as I'm known to call it. Wip. Close to whip. Which is what it's doing to me right now—whipping me—considering I'm totally stuck on the plot.

The secret cause of writer's block.

When I took Creative Writing at TCC, one method I learned for scaring away writer's block was to write blindfolded. Which can admittedly look a bit odd if you're, say, at Starbucks to write. But the way I like to do it is to dim my screen completely and type away. I've found it really helps because you can't judge yourself based on how much (or how little) of the page you've filled up. You can't see your word count, so you can't feel behind. You just type, and keep typing until you run out of steam. It's actually quite nice.

What do you guys like to do to get out of a funk? Do you break out the blindfolds? Or are you less kinky than that? ;-)